90-day Review Timeline for CDFI Certification Applications Can Affect Program Eligibility
Certification as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) is the gateway to accessing community development finance assistance offered by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). It determines an organization’s eligibility to apply for assistance through the CDFI Program and Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program), the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program (BG Program), and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF). Certification as a CDFI also conveys eligibility to be a certified Community Development Entity (CDE) under the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program). And, finally, an organization’s status as a certified CDFI can impact the amount of assistance it can be awarded through the Bank Enterprise Award Program (BEA Program).
Last fall, the CDFI Fund migrated the CDFI Certification Application into its Awards Management Information System (AMIS). This transition has allowed the CDFI Fund to streamline and expedite the review of CDFI Certification Applications. However, this is not an instantaneous process. Applicants for CDFI Certification should be aware that reviewing, evaluating, and then providing a determination on applications for certification can take up to 90 days from when a
completed application is received by the CDFI Fund.
Certification applications are currently accepted on a rolling basis. However, for organizations contemplating becoming a certified CDFI in order to apply for a CDFI Fund program award, it’s very important to keep the 90-day timeline in mind. Several of the CDFI Fund programs identified above require organizations to be certified as a CDFI at the time an application round opens.
Missing the certification deadlines specified in a CDFI Fund program Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA), Notice of Guarantee Availability (NOGA), or Notice of Allocation Authority (NOAA) will nullify an organization’s ability to apply for assistance. In order to prevent this from happening, the CDFI Fund urges those organizations thinking about applying for certification to do so with the applicable program’s funding application timeline in mind.
Many organizations miss the opportunity to apply for funding assistance because they either don’t apply for CDFI Certification far enough in advance or they submit an incomplete certification application that is subsequently rejected. Organizations interested in applying for certification should take advantage of the following resources developed by the CDFI Fund’s Office of Certification Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation (CCME):
Information and guidance material on the CDFI Certification Application process, available on the CDFI Certification webpage under the ‘How to Apply’ section by clicking on Step 1: Apply.
Monthly CDFI Certification Conference Calls that provide a forum for potential CDFI Certification Applicants, certified CDFIs, and other CDFI certification stakeholders to ask questions and discuss the certification process. Information on accessing these monthly conference calls can be found on the CDFI Certification webpage.
The CCME Help Desk, which answers questions related to CDFI or CDE Certification, as well as CDFI Fund assistance award compliance requirements. Contact the Help Desk via phone at (202) 653-0421 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. AMIS users can also submit service requests through their AMIS account.
Tanya McInnis is the Certification, Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation Manager